Wilba - Answered a Question by Bamford (03 Feb 09 07:56)

Fort Lauderdale is a superb pre cruise stay. The inland waterways covered by taxi boats which take you past some of the fantastic waterside mansions as you travel from A to B. The Everglades are close by, Shopping along Olas Boulevard, the beach etc. The Jungle Queen Steamboat looks impressive but be advised, you do a cruise around the waterways & finish up at a 'shed' where you disembark for a meal, if you could call it that. It's grim. In terms of your tours at your ports of call personally I wouldn't bother. St Thomas you will almost certainly want to do the shops (ships shuttle bus) & after lunch if you go by taxi/truck to one of the beaches, Magens Bay being the nearest, the taxis will wait to take you back to the ship. St Marteen is really a repeat of St Thomas. Labadee is a private island so it's off the ship, grab a sunlounger, swim, snorkel, get fed in a large buffet area & walk around the local batik (junk) stalls. San Juan is possibly worthy of some sort of a tour but we just ambled around the town. Tipping is covered in every detail if you use the search box. RCI still use the 'opt in' tipping system. You can pre pay or wait till your onboard & you will receive a form to either agree to the amounts charged to your onboard account or tip in cash as you see fit....Wilba.

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herd - Answered a Question by Bamford (03 Feb 09 07:25)

Hi,we did an Eastern Cruise with Freedom Oct 07,visited San Juan........was lovely and we took the horse riding through the Rain Forest.......Im sure if you did some research you could find out if they take kiddies too.It all depends on where you are going as to if you prbook your excursions..... Try googling Fort Lauderdale and you will be able to access all different ways of seeing what is available. As for tipping.....we never get it added on.we always take our own little envelopes and tip each individual........ie.....room attendaent,waiter at our table......and basically anyone you think gave you good service...... The most IMPORTANT person to tip is your room attendent...........they do an excellent job.Enjoy your cruise.......I CAN GAURENTEE it won't be your last.........

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Neil & Ida Down - Answered a Question by Bamford (03 Feb 09 10:32)

Hi Julia, I agree with Wilba re Fort L. we love starting from there so much more than Miami. We had a disastrous trip on the Jungle Queen and would never recommend it. The airboats on the Everglades are a real experience but a tad expensive, The beach is fine for some of the day and the Las Olas district good as well. There is also a big screen cinema (forgotten the trade name) there as well.There is a great shopping mall at Sawgrass Mills but if you don't want to do that you can just chill out around the hotel pool, they've all got one. I would recommend renting a car and using that to go out for breakfast and dinner as well as just running around as public transport is a bit lacking and things to see are well spread out. I took my sat nav which was invaluable providing you have the USA on it and you can rent them as well. Some of the hotels are up in nomansland so getting about from there can be awkward. Most of things I am mentioning can be followed up on the net and this goes for the ports of call as well. Hope this helps. ......Neil.

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Baylie - Answered a Question by Bamford (03 Feb 09 11:05)

Hi Julia, We are going on the Explorerer of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean and a few of the ports are the same as your itinery. I have been looking into RCI excursions and have found that many of the sporting activities such as horse/mountain bike riding etc. have a minimum age of 12 (the youngest in our party will be 8 and the oldest 13), this may not be the case if you book them in the port itself though - if you find that to be the case, please write about it. We are not going until Easter so I am still in the research phase of planning. The other thing to remember is that now the £ is so weak against the $ you possible won't save as much as before by organising your own trips rather than doing a ship tour but I'm sure there will still be some savings to be made. Gail.

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